UK law says your holiday must be protected if you book a package holiday. ATOL is a UK financial protection scheme and it protects most air package holidays sold by travel businesses that are licensed in the UK.
The scheme also applies to some flight bookings - usually those where you book flights (including UK domestic flights) but do not receive your tickets immediately. This is most common with charter flights, but can also apply to discounted scheduled flights or where you pay for flights in installments.
Please note that ATOL does not apply to holidays or flights booked directly with scheduled airlines or to flights booked with airline ticket agents.
What protection covers
ATOL stops you losing money or becoming stranded abroad if your travel business collapses:
- If the business collapses while you are on holiday, ATOL will make sure you can finish your holiday and get home as planned.
- If the business collapses before you travel, the scheme will provide a full refund for the holiday you booked. In some cases, you may be able to continue with some of your travel arrangements.
Make sure you are protected
To make sure your holiday is protected, look for the ATOL logo in your tour operator’s brochures, adverts and websites. Your tour operator or travel agent should also be able to tell you if ATOL protection applies. Your travel business is required to give you an ATOL Certificate explaining how your holiday is protected.
Check an ATOL
Check whether a travel business is a current ATOL holder. Search by ATOL number, registered business name or trading name.
Check for details of ATOL holders with the largest number of passengers on their licence.
Warning for consumers - false ATOL protection claims on websites
We are aware that consumers are at risk of losing money when booking with businesses that offer cheap flight seats or cheap air holidays on websites and which claim to hold ATOLs or to offer ATOL protection.
Many of these websites are operated from outside the UK, and while the CAA and other enforcement agencies are working to stop such websites, sadly it is not always possible to do so.
The CAA therefore urges consumers to be extra vigilant when being offered cheap travel and check that websites that claim to provide ATOL Protection are operated either by a valid ATOL holder or by agent properly acting on behalf of an ATOL holder.
Things to know that can help you reduce the risk:
- All bona fide ATOL holders display the ATOL Protected logo and their unique licence number issued by the CAA. Some combine the number into the logo;
- Each unique licence number is four to five digits long, and may include a T at the start;
- ATOL holders’ trading names and website addresses are registered with the CAA; these can be checked on the Check an ATOL facility.
Watch out for the following:
- The ATOL Protected logo is shown without a number, or with a number but either the number does not appear on the Check an ATOL facility or the ATOL holder to which the number is allocated is not referred to on the website;
- A trading name is used in connection with an ATOL holder’s business name or ATOL number but is not included on the ATOL holder’s record on the ATOL website;
- Unusually cheap flight or holidays prices are quoted;
- The online enquiry or booking facility doesn’t work;
- No postal address is shown on the website;
- Don’t be fooled by a website address ending .co.uk or a contact telephone number which has a UK dialling code - both of these can be operated from outside of the UK;
- Although credit and/or debit card logos are shown on the website there is no online payment facility, and consumers are asked to pay by bank transfer;
- You’re asked to make a deposit payment only but are then offered a better deal later providing that you pay in full;
- After an initial payment is made, the consumer is told the booking cost has increased;
- You receive a document or e-mail referring to a reservation but which are not been issued by the airline or airline/s concerned.
Websites to watch out for
In addition to the advice given above, we are providing information here on websites that include false indications that an ATOL is held or that ATOL Protection is in place (as at June 2019):
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